Understanding factors that shape gender attitudes in early adolescence globally: a mixed-methods systematic review

Understanding factors that shape gender attitudes in early adolescence globally.PDF

Early adolescence (ages 10–14) is a period of increased expectations for boys and girls to conform to socially constructed and often stereotypical norms that perpetuate gender inequalities. The endorsement of gender norms has been closely linked to poor adolescent, sexual and reproductive health-related outcomes; yet little is known about the factors that influence young adolescents’ personal gender attitudes.

This research sought to explore factors that shape gender attitudes in early adolescence across different cultural settings through a mixed-method systematic review.

The findings from the review suggest that:

  • young adolescents in different cultural settings commonly endorse norms that perpetuate gender inequalities
  • parents and peers are especially central in shaping gender attitudes
  • programmes to promote equitable gender attitudes need to move beyond a focus on individuals to target interpersonal relationships and wider social environments
  • programmes need to start early and be tailored to the unique needs of sub-populations of boys and girls
  • longitudinal studies, particularly from low-and middle-income countries, are needed to better understand how gender attitudes unfold in adolescence and to identify the key points for intervention

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